Wave Shape
Wave Shape

Marsa Alam – October 2023

Wave Shape

Day 1

Wednesday 11th October 2023

Marsa Alam

Travel to the airport 8am in convoy, quick coffee before easy airport access and security clearance. A meal and a pint followed before departure for Hurgarda which was delayed by 45minutes.

Arrival at Egypt saw us clear customs quickly before getting our minibus taxi journey for a planned 3-hour transfer to Marsa Alam

The first half of the journey went well before a rear tyre blow out saw us stranded in the desert with the driver not having a scuby how to change a tyre. Thankfully he eventually listened to Llyn Sub Aqua members which saw us get back on our way after an hour.

Got to the hotel and all checked in and we were looking at a 3-hour sleep before the first day’s diving.

Dewi

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Day 2

Dive Report – Thursday 12th October 2023

Shoni Vigbour

The minibus arrived promptly, and everybody looked surprisingly fresh even after only 3 hours beauty sleep.

Dive gear in tow we transferred to Emperor Divers. We made ourselves at home on the boat with the buddy pairings for the holiday already decided.

Andrew / Laura

Melanie / Gwenno & Mike

Dewi / Lowri

First dive of the Holiday was at Shoni Vigbour and briefing received by Taki. It was a bit chaotic at the start with the guide trying to sort out the lack of buoyancy control of an elderly lady who eventually plummeted into the middle of a large fan coral causing it to break, necessitating a prolonged weight check and some 10 minutes for the group hanging around underwater.   All this hanging around saw Mike wonder off following what he thought were Melanie’s fins. 

We eventually got under way with the guide doing the head count with only 6 instead of the 7 in our group. The guide was giving constant signals to Dewi wanting to know where the 7th diver, Melanie knew Mike was ahead, but the guide was getting increasingly concerned and eventually turning us around pairing us with another guide to go and look for Mike who was eventually found on the boat after having caught up with the yellow fins and seeing they were attached to a pair of hairy legs. Yellow card received by Taki on return, which was largely due to the chaos at the start.

Plenty to see on the dive especially with 30m viz, including turtles, free swimming moray, blue spotted rays and the various other colourful reef fish and corals. As is normal in Egypt the 2nd dive was the opposite of the first, but this saw the whole group staying together. Both dive recording depths of between 16-21 meters and for an hour duration.

Dewi

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Day 3

Dive Report – Friday 13th October 2023

Torfet Ali

A slightly blurry start for some and rumours of ouzo cocktails and dancing the night before however we were ready and waiting for when the 7:45 pick up turned up at 8.
The wind was still strong and the swell big so it was a pleasant surprise to be at the days dive site (Torfet Ali) within 10 minutes of leaving the port. Another pleasant surprise was the change in boats resulted in us being on sky’ which was bigger so more room to spread out and the lift was a welcome bonus! There were 17 of us in all on the boat and after a pretty relaxed start sorting our kit (except for Laura’s near miss involving lead and a toe) we had a great briefing and split into two groups. We were in the first group so headed below deck to kit up and drop in.
After getting settled as a group and with our buddies the sports divers headed down to tick off 25m depth progression early on. The drop off from the reef was perfect for this. Of course, loads of life- huge variety of coral and fish, excellent reef topography with lovely walls and huge mounds of finger corals on the return back to the boat.
After a fairly long surface interval/lunch break of 2h+ complete with a surfing turtle visible (to some!) from the boat, it was time for the second dive briefing of the day. This time we headed SW. Started by exploring a pinnacle by the boat, then headed across coral gardens intersected by impressive sandy gullies heading down to 30m plus. Amongst other things, I saw a particularly girthy moray, Scorpionfish, nice triggerfish out in the blue, blue spotted rays and fish of all shapes and sizes like bird nose wrasse prompting some interesting new hand signals for the different species!
The proximity of the dive site to Port Ghalib meant we were back on dry land soon after the second dive and ready to relax at the pool bar to discuss the day’s diving.
Laura.
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Day 4
Dive Report – Saturday 14 thOctober 2023
We had an early morning pick up to get to Sha’ab Samadai Reef also known as “Dolphin House”. Our first dive was a cave dive, which we undertook in our usual groups. Once we were inside, we went straight through the cave which had a maximum depth of about 10m. On exiting the cave we submerged to about 20 meters depth into an amazing hard and soft coral garden with large pinnacles full of life.
When we emerged from the dive, we were rushed to take off our kit and get our snorkelling gear on. The crew had spotted some dolphins in the lagoon which was a snorkel only zone. We hurriedly got onto the zodiac and then into the water, to hopefully meet some dolphins. We had to swim quite far a distance in order to have a chance of seeing them and after what seemed like a long time some of us were luckier than others and managed to see four dolphins – three adults and a baby.
As there was a time constraint in the area, we had to rush again to get our diving kit back on and get into the sea for our second dive. We returned to the same area as our first dive, only this time we swam the other way around the pinnacles. We got down to a maximum depth of around 17 meters and luckily saw a crocodile fish and a group of very large fish which was not identified. I was happy to see a lot of colourful clown fish.
Melanie came up with a nickname for our guide ‘dirty guide’ due to the glass fish’s interest in him rather than her.
We managed to get back to the hotel just in time to watch Wales loose in the rugby quarter finals! A big thank you to Andrew for finding the game on his phone.
Gwenno.
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Day 5

Dive Report – Sunday 15 th October 2023

We drove along the usual empty desert road, embellished with plastic bottles and half finished buildings that scattered into the distance. We picked up two more divers at their hotel and within five minutes the sand was swapped for a marina and restaurant strip. Now used to the order of things, we clambered out of the minibus and headed straight down the path to the boat.

We set up the kit before departure and Dewi’s A-clamp regs decided to throw a fit and refuse to seal. Five nitrox tanks and multiple O-ring inspections later, the regs got put to one side and a rental set came to the rescue. As the crew waited for the coastguard to sign off on our departure, Gwenno and Laura resumed their positions of silence with eyes locked on the horizon and silent prayers for a calm journey.

 Our first dive site of the day was Ras el Torfa, with the first dive bearing north. Buddy pairing were Andrew and Laura; Gwenno, Melanie and Mike; myself and Dewi. As we kitted up, four crew members were at hand to attend to the “milky females” whilst Dewi and Mike were left to put on their own equipment. After a buddy check with strict instructions for Dewi to A.) not die on me and B.) stay on the same side as my octopus, someone placed and tightened my fins for me, leaving Dewi to do his own and we jumped into the water.

We went down to a max depth of 30 meters and started with the coral on our left. We saw a baby Whitetip reef shark swimming along the blue, and later some tuna and a Barracuda. We swam over coral mountains with a variety of branch extensions. Some reaching out like thick fingers, others bubbly and cartoon-like. On the way back we passed a sandy plain and I spent a while trying to figure out what everyone was pointing at. I recognised the hand signal for octopus but what I saw were several fish line-dancing in what looked like frilly skirts. Upon closer inspection it was a row of squid fluttering around.

On the second dive we beared south and reached a max depth of 24 meters. The sea life was abundant. The baby Whitetip made a reappearance. There were pinnacles of coral fingers with white tips and thousands of nemos and other little rainbow fishes weaving themselves around it like murmuring starlings. A large Trigger fish lay resting against a wall of coral and a black and white lionfish floated around dramatically. By now we were so accustomed to seeing Giant moray eels moving around the sea floor that we barely paid attention to one poking out its head. What did draw attention was the blonde lady paired with the instructor. She appeared to be diving in the wrong direction, and even after the instructor drew her attention back to the group by tapping at his cylinder, she almost instantly went off in the wrong direction again.

The third dive was apparently a drift. I say apparently as we did some considerable paddling on our final dive of the day. Me and Gwenno were on air since SOMEONE had gone through multiple nitrox tanks on the first dive. We got to 16 meters and were again faced with beautiful coral and impressive pinnacles. A large turtle with two fish on its shell greeted us on a coral covered floor and a Starry pufferfish made a panicked beeline past me. As we’d taken off on the rib, our entry was slightly less elegant than the lift we had been using on the earlier dives. We got hauled up into the boat by the cox in one swift motion. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten out of the water so fast.

With a day of successful dives and salty skin, we got back to the hotel and had our crucial daily debriefing which consisted of multiple G&T’s as well as gin topped with gin. After which we got changed and met back at the restaurant for dinner.   At five past eight, six of us sat around the table with trepidation when everyone had arrived BEFORE Andrew. Watches were checked and we took glances between phone screens and the door. Several minutes passed before we were able to give him a great round of applause.

Lowri.

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Day 6
Dive Report – Monday 16 th October 2023
Mike was a bit worse for wear after the whisky the night before, and being a little bit late was greeted with applause when he joined us on the minibus. We headed back to Port Ghalib for another day’s diving on the dive boat “Sky” with its two-diver lift. We set off to our first dive site of the day and as per usual high winds and rough seas and not forgetting my tablets.
Dive 1- Halt Salmar North
The plan was for Laura and Lowri to get their 35 metre dives signed off and inform the guide of our plan. One of the guides questioned our MOD as we were on Nitrox 32% which meant the max depth was 33 metres, but I informed him we had adjusted our PPO2 from 1.4 to 1.6 increasing MOD to 40 metres which he laughed “only checking”.
On our way we saw a Bluespotted Stingray and a white Moray Eel, then we went through a narrow gully which started from about 18 metres going down to 30 metres so just at that point Laura and I dipped into 35 metres, but we stayed there a little longer than planned as we found a juvenile Lionfish. We then ascended to rejoin the rest of the group with Dewi and Lowri who had also achieved their depth of 35 metres. On our way back to the boat we passed coral reefs with an abundance of small colourful reef fish.
Dive 2- Halt Salmar South
The vis on this dive was not that good at the beginning and within a few minutes we came across what can only be described as a frenzy of divers stirring up the bottom with clouds of sand, they must have found something interesting, but we stayed clear and carried on with our dive finding clearer water. Then I saw a Leopard Flounder effortlessly gliding over the sand, and one very large Giant Trevally. I also saw one bizarre thing called a Salp or Pyrostremma Spinosum, which is actually made of dozens of animals that reproduce by making exact copies of themselves, and then weaving their tissues together to form one long tube. These clones are referred to as zooids.
On the way back to the boat, the guide found something buried in the sand he used his pointer stick to tease it out and at first glance what appeared to be a stone but as he wagged the pointer stick at the stone, some colourful fins appeared to reveal a Red Sea Walkman to our surprise and Mike’s delight as he had waited years to see one making an unimpressive dive worthwhile.
After lunch, we were offered a third dive at a different location and as Laura wanted to try and get her 100th dive on the trip and Gwenno her 50th we agreed. But it might also have been because there was a good chance to see Green Turtles and maybe a Sea Cow (Dugong).
Dive 3- Marsa Mubark
After arriving at the dive site, which was in most parts a relatively shallow bay, we headed across the sandy bay towards the seagrass area, on the way a Giant Trevally came towards me and swam past, it was almost in touching distance and as it went past its eye turned and was looking directly at me!
Then we saw our first Turtle of five which included two feeding fairly close together. We had seemingly gone in an arc coming back under the boat from the port side. After a long day’s diving with a combined dive time of almost 3 hours we headed back to Port Ghalib and our transport back to the hotel for our sunset gin and tonics before our evening meal and then a few cocktails before heading off to bed and the anticipation for our next day’s adventure.
Andrew.
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Day 7
Dive Report – Tuesday 17 th October 2023
The day started as usual, up, hasty breakfast should get up earlier- lunch made from rolls and cold cheeses etc at breakfast. Then to meet the minibus for the ride to the port. This was our last day and we were on the boat we had had the majority of the time, but with the Captain as our guide for the day.
There was quite a delay before we left the port but we headed north and dived at Torfa et Ali. This was a nice reef with lots of fish including lionfish and a clearfin lionfish, a moray eel, a nice worm with red tentacles and a scorpion fish. Other fish included fairy basslets, dottybacks, goatfish, angelfish, damsel fish and hawkfish and a partner goby and shrimp, and surgeonfish . Gwenno completed her deep progression dive to 35m with Dewi. He was popular as the Lithuanian diver also wanted to go down with him. She went alone slightly later in the dive!
Andrew entertained on the surface showing us all how to pole dance without actually going overboard very impressive.
The boat was moved between dives to Marsa Muback, slightly further south for the second dive due to increasing wind. This was the final dive of the week. This was also Laura’s 100th dive big cheer and Gwenno’s 50th dive big cheer. The dive was on sea grass- slightly deeper than at Porth Dinllaen. Dewi had brought along Chris’ flag which was unfurled and we had an underwater shot of everyone round the dragon. It’s a good job that someone knows how to edit photos so that it looks like we knew what we were doing!
This dive did not disappoint on the turtles. Only two green turtles this time. One went up to the surface for a breath after eating and the other was just stuffing its face with seagrass. Each had its own remora or two, some longer than the turtle itself. We also saw whitespotted puffer and trunkfish. As usual on the silty sediment were lots of lizard fish. Back at the boat and shoals of fusiliers around the boat.
Back for the last sundowner by the pool. Last evening meal in the restaurant and last drinks on the terrace. Mike managed the G & T’s, red wine and cocktails, even trying to get in with the dancers some of whom were quite agile.
Melanie.
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Day 8
Tuesday 18 thOctober 2023
Going home.
The diving had ended and there was no rush to get to breakfast or catch the early minibus. Everybody doing there own thing but most importantly the kit had all dried overnight to allow for packing before checkout at 12pm.
We all met at reception and it was just a case of hanging around, we all went for lunch at the hotel except for Lowri who wasn’t feeling 100%. After lunch we had a few hours to kill before pickup, Melanie decided to go for a swim, Gwenno and Laura went to top up the tans, whilst Lowri, Mike, Andrew & Dewi played some killer pool.
Transfer to the airport was early, we checked the tyres to ensure they were in good condition and went on a white knuckle ride to the airport, driver knocking 30minutes off the journey reaching max speeds of 95mph.
A short wait before bag drop off and clearing security, Lowri clearly looks like a dodgy woman, constantly being pulled aside for searching. We all then visited the KFC before takeoff. Everybody trying to do their best to sleep for the 6 hour journey back to the UK, with Gwenno I think taking 1st prize. Arrival at Manchester saw a swift pickup by the Castle Hill Farm before onward journey arriving in Penllyn for about 6am absolutely knackered.
Conclusion.
A good trip, Emperor Divers I thought were very good, the lift on the back of the boat was a godsend and facilities onboard were excellent. The diving was excellent with plenty of varied life, good viz and warm waters has to be good for the soul.
Weather was windy throughout which meant we were not able to get to Elphinstone but that could be a good excuse to return one day.
Hotel base Three Corners Farouz, Port Galib was an excellent base, good food and drink, although the Gin & Tonics could be very strong at times and Egyptian Whiskey is still crap.
Overall a good trip with excellent company, now looking forward to the next one 👍
Dewi.
You Tube video of the trip 
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